What to Expect During a Bone Density Test (and How to Prepare for It)
Bone density tests are exceedingly common procedures that are often used to diagnose osteoporosis in patients with risk factors.
The basics of bone density tests
Bone density tests are vital to diagnosing osteoporosis and decreasing the chances of a bone fracture. Essentially, medical professionals use a machine to accurately measure the density and mass of a specific bone in the body, which can help determine if you are suffering from osteoporosis, or should otherwise be concerned about bone fractures.
Bone density tests can also be useful for monitoring the process of your osteoporosis over time, determining what effects any medications may be having on your bone health. Doctors often recommend bone density tests for:
- Men who are 70 and older
- Women who are 65 and older
- Men and women in younger age groups who exhibit certain risk factors
- Patients whose x-rays show a spinal break or spinal bone loss
- Patients with height loss of at least 1/2 inch in a year
What to expect in the event that you need a bone density test
Bone density tests are typically performed on the bones that are most likely to break due to loss of mass—namely your hip bone and lower spine—but tests are sometimes performed on other areas as well. Most patients will be asked to lie on a platform while a mechanical device passes over, emitting only a tiny amount of radiation (less than a typical x-ray).
The test is safe and painless, so not much preparation is needed on the part of the patient. However, if you’ve recently had a barium test or undergone a CT scan you will need to inform your doctor, because it’s possible for the materials used in these tests to interfere with the results of the bone density exam.
Treating your osteoporosis safely and proactively
Bone density tests are an important tool for diagnosing osteoporosis before the fracture of a bone, and they can help you and your doctor treat the condition safely and effectively. If you think you may be in need of a bone density test, schedule a consultation with the Arthritis And Osteoporosis Treatment Center in Jacksonville.